The inescapable mantra across businesses (even government) today, is that the “customer” is at the core of what they do – the idea that “we live to serve”. While many organisations seek to project this image, relatively few can actually claim to be authentically customer-centric.

The challenge is to build a focus on customers into organisational DNA and get past the lip service to an ideal. We work with lots of different organisations and see a wide range of approaches, delivering varying degrees of success. However, those attempting to affect change that are genuinely nailing it demonstrate some common traits.

Organisations successfully embarking on becoming authentically customer-centric deliberately create the right operational conditions for it to happen – a hothouse to allow the flowers to bloom.

In this first part of a two-part examination of the factors for success we analyse four of the nine things that we’ve observed characterise truly customer-centric organisations: the mandate; thinking big, starting small; holding out for a hero; and what it means when the penny drops.

Nine aspects of true customer-centricity

1. The mandate
2. Thinking big, starting small
3. Holding out for a hero
4. The penny drops
5. Shared success
6. Culture (and evidence) eats strategy for breakfast
7. Data doesn’t solve people problems
8. People, process and platforms
9. Day-to-day decisions

The mandate

Becoming an authentically customer-centric organisation begins with a mandate – strong and clear leadership; goals that are easily understood, realistic and achievable; and the resources to get it done. It requires a practical and realistic vision of what being customer centric means to the organisation – not just what you want to be, but what you credibly can be.